How Big Brands Are Showing Their Support For Social Justice
As many as 70 percent of consumers want brands to take a stand on social and political issues. That’s a 66 percent increase from 2017, according to Sprout Social’s 2019 #BrandsGetReal survey.
Recently, consumers’ social media feeds have become saturated with brands joining social justice conversations—which is great—but even before the Black Lives Matter movement, consumers reported that it doesn’t always feel genuine. In fact, 53 percent of consumers believe brands take a stand for PR and marketing purposes (known as woke-washing), and 35 percent perceive brands speaking out as “jumping on the bandwagon,” according to Sprout Social’s findings.
Many brands have spoken out about their support for Black communities and racial equality. While making a statement is important, brands must ensure their words are backed with real actions and impact. Consumers are increasingly skeptical of purpose washing. They penalize companies that jump on the bandwagon, damaging their reputations.
Social justice starts within your own organization. You cannot say that you stand with Black Lives Matter without addressing your own hiring or corporate culture, as well as any conscious or unconscious biases in your leadership. You must carefully consider your external communications. It’s critical to listen and engage in dialogue with those directly affected by racial injustice to ensure your contribution is both respectful and impactful. Then can you move forward by supporting and/or taking actions that support long-term, systemic solutions.
Today’s consumers are increasingly looking for brands to expose gender inequality but also empower women. Despite the basic principle that women and men should be paid the same wages for the same work, a gender-based wage gap still persists.
More than 50 years after the Equal Pay Act was signed, women who work full-time, year-round still earn 79 cents for every dollar paid to men. For women of color, the gap is even worse – 60 cents for African American women and 55 cents for Latinas.
With these current movements, smart brands trends to support Social Justice not just by showing support, they can also see tough times as an opportunity to step up, some of them as Reconciliation Brands. These are brands that bring people together to heal divisions. These companies are doing their part to promote dialogue, mend wounds and reconcile issues between the populations they serve.
A great example of this comes from Ben & Jerry’s. With Brazil deep in crisis around the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and economic, political and social challenges taking their toll, the popular ice cream brand invited people to its São Paolo store for a political debate.
The idea was to bring people who love one another together, face-to-face, to discuss contentious issues they could not agree on, over ice cream. The campaign was featured on social media using the hashtag #amoréprogresso — meaning ‘disagree with love.’ This is just one way that brands around the world are working to mend the social fabric and be an active force for change.
Brands that support Social Justice is a new paradigm that imagines a healthier and mutually beneficial relationship between companies and the communities they interact with. It is driven by the growing desire of socially-aware consumers and employees for companies, especially socially-conscious and forward-thinking companies, to do better. Companies have an opportunity to rise to the occasion and leverage their influence to build a better world for all — including themselves.
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